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SavoirFaire's avatar

If we encountered intelligent aliens, how might their religious beliefs affect your own?

Asked by SavoirFaire (23911points) December 13th, 2011

Suppose we encountered intelligent aliens and discovered that they had an array of religious beliefs just like we do. Would you find it meaningful if a directly parallel religion to your own existed within their civilization? What if they had a distinctly Abrahamic God? What if they were predominately followers of a religion like Buddhism? If you are an atheist, what would it mean to you if one of the alien religions was almost exactly like Judaism, Christianity, or Islam?

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19 Answers

dappled_leaves's avatar

That is an interesting question, when you consider that Christianity (for example) already has multiple precursors in human history. Not too many Christians are eager to begin following Horus, for example… even though it’s pretty much the same story. So, would they find meaning in an extraterrestrial parallel religion, when they don’t find any in a terrestrial parallel religion? I doubt it.

babybadger's avatar

From the point of view of an atheist (not saying I personally am or am not one), this would probably at least change some atheist thoughts on religion. The odds are too astronomical for a random religion to be almost identical to that of another, provided that there was no previous contact between the human and alien civilizations. I think some atheists would change their religions/thoughts, and I believe that the human members of the religion the aliens share with them would be very pleased – they would say that this is proof that their religion is true.

On the other hand, there would be a question as to how humanoid the aliens were. Perhaps human nature allows us to come up with religions that are more believable than others… all depends on the specifics of the situation.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@babybadger I suspect atheists would largely take the latter view, though I would probably express it as having certain universal fears that a specific type of deity can alleviate.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

It would probably depend how many other similarities there were between them and us. I don’t know, the whole thing seems so far fetched to me, that it’s difficult for me to really consider how I might feel about it.

babybadger's avatar

@dappled_leaves That is an excellent point. I think it really depends on the specifics as to how the aliens present themselves….humans are influenced by such miniscule details haha.

judochop's avatar

I can’t imagine that the worship of any deity type figure would be that different than what has already been created. Look at all the similarities that exist between religions now.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

I have to think that a race advanced enough to travel the stars out grew religion long ago.

wundayatta's avatar

Their religious beliefs wouldn’t affect mine at all. They would, however, make me question their intelligence.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Gazooks, on its merit is it a very interesting concept, and question. If extraterrestrial visit here with the ability to convince me they are who they say, to me it would bring it all home. If there were no contact between Earth and them, but they came up with the same concept and belief in God I had, it would to be, back the Bible up. The only other concept, which I feel many atheist will try to adopt, is that the extraterrestrials were the religious figure of the Bible and they planted the Bible here to enslave and bamboozle man. They might even try some other way to explain it away but they will never sit back, extrapolate all the facts coming in and say, “maybe I got this wrong”, because that would mean there is something larger (sentient) than themselves.

lillycoyote's avatar

While I am not an atheist, I can’t see myself finding alien religious doctrine, dogma and theology any more compelling or believable than I have found any of the religious doctrine, dogma and theology offered up so far, by anyone on my current planet.

everephebe's avatar

Well it would certainly make me put my thinking cap on.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’d be so disappointed.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^^ ^^
(3 of 4 above)

King_Pariah's avatar

They wouldn’t affect mine unless they could prove without a doubt that the god in question exists… but then again what is a God but a hyper evolved being waiting to get overthrown?

SmashTheState's avatar

If they were intelligent they wouldn’t have any. By definition.

Blackberry's avatar

I would have a hard time believing such intelligent people would still be religious. Remember the Star Trek episode where the primitive culture thought Picard was god lol?

But if they were, I would at least take some time to study their beliefs before I discount them.

Paradox25's avatar

This is a tough question to answer. On one hand you would think that if these aliens are much more advanced than us then they would likely know more about the origins of the universe and spiritual matters respective to us. On the other hand it is possible that these aliens could really have evil intentions or a negative disposition so they might not lead us on the “correct” path spiritually.

Being advanced doesn’t necessarily mean that they would be omniscient. To me there is an enormous difference between spirituality and dogmatic religion and I would study their religious views with caution and I also would be asking alot of questions.

augustlan's avatar

The only way it would make me rethink things is if they are able to scientifically prove the existence of their god, and we were able to reproduce their results.

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